Entertainment

Top Kwantlen designers ready for the big show

Graduating students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s fashion program will be putting their best foot forward in Richmond next week at a professionally-produced showcase of their designs.

Presented by Tamoda Apparel, The Show on April 24 will put fashion lines from 37 emerging designers on the catwalk at River Rock Show Theatre.

“It’s a final compilation of all the work that they put together,” said Andhra Goundrey, co-ordinator of the fashion design and technology program at Kwantlen. “It’s a great way to celebrate together as a cohort—they become a family—to celebrate with their family and friends, and also most importantly to meet with the industry.”

The school’s bachelor of design, fashion and technology degree program gives students the technical skills they need to succeed in the the fashion industry—from pattern-making and design to sewing and computer-aided design. But it also teaches students about being global citizens, encouraging them to consider the difference they can make.

“The fashion industry is really known for sometimes some of the damaging effects that it has—socially and environmentally—so they need to consider those impacts that they’re going to have in the world too,” said Goundrey.

Nicole Picco, one of the graduating students whose work will be on the catwalk, is looking forward to celebrating four years of blood, sweat and tears with her classmates.

The 21-year-old Port Coquitlam woman created Pulse, an activewear collection for curvy women that fills a void in the growing plus-size apparel industry. Bold prints, coupled with a focus on fit, comfort and quality is key to the collection.

“It’s for the fashion-loving, health-conscious curvy girl, who is energetic and outgoing and wants to show her shape. She’s not really afraid to hide her body, especially when she’s working out.”

Entering the world of fashion was a bit of a fluke, she said in an interview with Black Press. Having always been a creative kid, a personality test in high school suggested three potential careers—all in design. She chose fashion, found Kwantlen and hasn’t stopped sewing.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs,” she said of her studies, “but I have learned a lot in the way of building confidence in myself, creative confidence, learning how to take what I have in my head and put in on paper and get in in the form of a garment.”

Studying at Kwantlen has also brought out the stitching skills of Shelby Gillingham, a 22-year-old North Vancouver native. Seeing her work—and the work of her classmates—on stage will make for an emotional night, she said.

Shelby Gillingham •See video on Shelby Gillingham's NVRLND clothing line.

“It’s just going to be one of those experiences that may not happen again. It’s such a big show to put on and we’ve all worked so hard to put it get together.”

Remembering flipping through Vogue magazines as a young girl, Gillingham said she has long had a passion for textiles. Her grandmother taught her to knit, and she started sewing in high school.

She’s also an accomplished field hockey player. Before graduating she considered pursuing a sports scholarship, but she chose fashion school instead.

Her final collection is NVRLND: apparel for the female motorcycle rider. Safety and functionality are key to the garments, which draw inspiration from the West Coast.

“I found that there is a gap in the market for riding apparel that takes the aesthetic of high end sportswear designs, but also maintains functionality and safety within the garments, so I really wanted to bring that combination together.”

Despite a growth in female riders, designs available for women tend to be masculine and have a bulky fit, said Gillingham, who works as a design assistant at Lululemon Athletica.

“NVRLND really pushes the boundaries against the stereotypical biker chick look. I really wanted to focus on bringing a more fresh, feminine and luxurious look to the runway.”

Keisha Lowes, 21, brought her love for the outdoors into the design room. The North Delta woman’s clothing line, Compass Travel Co., is a men’s travel collection aimed at the 30- to 45-year-old male who craves adventure. Earthy neutrals, cool blues and crisp whites are notable in the easy-to-care-for fabrics.

Keisha Lowes•See video on Keisha Lowes' Compass Travel Co. line.

“I really strive to make something that people really need in their life. There’s a lot of fashion that’s available that we don’t need—a lot of excess. Creating something that’s going to withstand time and really fill that void that someone’s looking for is something that I strive to do with all my designs,” said Lowes.

Lowes started sewing early in life. Her interest in fashion really blossomed in high school with textile classes. Her Kwantlen experience was overwhelming—learning the ropes of the fashion industry is much less glamourous than she thought—but now as a graduate, she’s excited to see how her cohort will change the industry.

“I’m really happy the way everything went, and I learned so much. If it was what I expected it to be, I wouldn’t have gotten as much out, and I wouldn’t have grown as much as a designer and a person.”

The Show 2014

•A fashion showcase from graduating students in the fashion and technology program from Kwantlen Polytechnic University

•Thursday, April 24 at 1, 3 and 7 p.m.

•Tickets are $18 for matinee shows, $38 for evening show; available at kpufashionshow.eventbrite.ca

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